Picture in Time: Sunderland 100

Today our “Picture in Time” tram features probably one of the most controversial repaints ever seen on a heritage tram – the British Steel advert livery on Sunderland 100 when it ran at the Gateshead Garden Festival.

Today we all know Sunderland 100 better as Metropolitan Electric Tramways 331 and it has become a regular performer at Crich. Of course the tram did begin its life as 331 and entered service in London during December 1930 and is one of the iconic Feltham trams. As a prototype this tram featured a centre entrance (the production models had entrances at the ends) and this proved to be its downfall when the route on which it operated was closed. Many of the class were transferred onto a route which required partial conduit operation but it was decided the centre entrances precluded this and in August 1936 – less than 6 years after an entry into service – this modern looking tramcar was withdrawn from service. Fortunately Sunderland came to the rescue and 331 – renumbered as 100 – went to the northeast where it remained in service until 1952. Acquired for preservation the tram was not to see any use until 1988 when after workshop attention it entered service as Sunderland 100 and then in 1990 it was transferred back to the northeast for use at the Gateshead Garden Festival. Unfortunately at this time the decision was taken to paint the tram in an advert livery for British Steel – in the same style as the Sunderland livery but blue – and it ran like this throughout the Festival. Returning to Crich the tram was repainted into standard Metropolitan Electric Tramways livery in which it remains today. Although it has spent some time out of service during the intervening years it is in the operational pool more often than not.

In this photo we see 100 at the Gateshead Garden Festival on 21st August 1990.

Photograph by Bob Hodges

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8 Responses to Picture in Time: Sunderland 100

  1. Nigel Pennick says:

    A really interesting photograph – the livery shows off the tram’s modernist design better than the historic red and white.

  2. RILEYR says:

    MET 331 spent most of its working life as Sunderland 100 and it would be great to see it repainted in its Sunderland livery. The whole point of the garden festible tramway was to bring back memories of north east trams but who would remember trams in the north east running with a blue and white British steel livery. I visited the festible in 1990 and remember being shocked at the site of 100 in this horrible blue livery.

    • Paul D says:

      Was said a while ago, that she ought to spend a season at Beamish as 100. Just a shame it couldn’t happen before 101/703 was withdrawn…

  3. Phill says:

    My understanding is that British Steel part funded the rebuild. So without this livery, it’d still be dumped at the back of the depot.
    In the RSE’s office at Crich are some concept boards showing an alternative livery, which was mostly cream and red with BS adverts all over. Think it was loosely based on LPTB livery.

  4. Andy says:

    There was also some plans done for British steel adverts but in Sunderland livery that are also somewhere in the RSE office or library. At teh end of the Day British steel paid the money and chose the livery. It must also be remembered that this was the 1st all steel construction tramcar to be restored at Crich.

    • Steve says:

      331 was very much an expensive car to do, and as Andy said without the festival and the sponsorship the car may have taken a lot longer to do. Re the livery although it ran in the festival in BS Blue it was actually turned out – (and ran) in Sunderland livery, complete ( as a recall) shop at Binns adverts ,but with twin trolleys rather than the panto it would have had. One thing at Crich is never say never, afterall our Scottish friends were able to get Paisley 68 done as Glasgow 1068.

    • Phill says:

      That’ll be what I was on about then, not sure why I though it looked like LPTB.

  5. John says:

    And it ddn’t look as hideous as 167 in 1985!! Totally agree 100 should visit Beamish – I keep hearing it may get a repaint so visit Beamish as 100 first? I’d also love to see it in Blackpool as 331 is the car is really where the streamline centre entrance design came from.